Peninsula News

Asiana crash prompts language barrier proposal

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Press conference regarding proposal after Asiana Airlines crash. Asiana Airlines crash wreckage at SFO

The Asiana Airlines crash at San Francisco International Airport last July prompted new legislation today to prevent language barriers for people needing medical help. State and local leaders joined forces asking for federal dollars to increase medical interpreter services.

North East Medical Services in San Francisco is held up as an example of a facility that provides good medical care for patients who speak little or no English.

Assembly Speaker John Perez, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Assembly Member Phil Ting are pushing Bill 2325, which was inspired by the Asiana crash. It would provide more medical interpreters statewide -- on the ground in some places and in other situations, translation services would be made available remotely. They say it doesn't do people any good to have health insurance if they don't have access if they can't understand and answer a question like, "where does it hurt?" And in an emergency like the Asiana crash-- language can save lives.

"What we know for certain, is if Asiana accident happened anywhere else in many other cities in the country, we would have had a much higher death toll. The reality that there were some many providers in San Francisco who had the language skills necessary for a passengers base that was specifically Korean and Chinese really was the difference between, life and death," said Speaker Perez.

To pay for the interpreters the bill would take federal money that's right now being left on the table and match state dollars three to one. Meaning, for every $25 California spent, the feds would kick in $75. Lawmakers do not yet know exactly how much the bill will cost.

This comes one day after the U.S. Department of Transportation announced Asiana Airlines will pay a $500,000 fine for its slow response in contacting passenger families' after the crash.

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Tags:
Asiana Airlines crash, plane crash, crash, san francisco international airport, china, NTSB, sffd, peninsula news, katie marzullo
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